I awoke this morning to the sounds of laughter reverberating down the stairwell just above my bedroom door. My three children were sitting in pajamas at the top of the steps. They’d tied blankets as capes around their necks and were giggling nonsensically about their superhero adventures, imaginative play at its finest. I listened to them carry on as warm, soft daylight began to filter through the window next to me. The warmth of gratitude swept over me too. Something in their laughter brought appreciation to my soul. Their happiness made me happy. Their pleasure became my pleasure too.

Laughter has a way of doing that.

Of lifting us up out of darkness and into the light. Like a dry sponge made wet under a running faucet or winter ground made green again after the spring rain. Laughter fills and then breeds a thankful heart. At least that’s what it did for the surrounding nations in the land of Israel, according to Psalm 126. When God brought the Israelites back from captivity, they responded in this way:

Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them’” (Psalm 126:2, ESV).

Notice how the Israelites’ joy was so contagious it influenced the surrounding nations. Pagan nations far from God declared, “The Lord has done great things…” The Israelites’ celebrations gave their neighbors a greater awareness of God and caused them to acknowledge His work among them. And, funny thing is, laughter and joy can have that same effect on the people around us too.

When is the last time you’ve giggled like a school girl? When have you let the cares of this world bend and give way to some good, ole’ fashioned belly laughs with a friend or loved one?

Maybe laughter isn’t just a luxury today. Maybe it’s a necessity. After all, a joyful heart really is “good medicine,” not just for you but for others around you too (Proverbs 17:22, ESV).

*Originally published by The Joyful Life Magazine.